Innovative techniques for hog farm operations which are presently practiced around the world have contributed significantly in ensuring food sufficiency for billions of people, and provided more opportunities to increase farmers’ incomes.

By Julio P. Yap, Jr.

But according to animal health experts, with these developments come new challenges. Take for example the use of concrete flooring in modern pens. These deprive the hogs, especially the young pigs, of one of the most vital and essential minerals: iron.

An animal healthcare expert said that iron would have been readily available and accessible from natural soil. As a result, iron has become one of the most important mineral supplements needed in raising newborn pigs because they require high amounts of iron to help ward off anemia and infections that could result in stunting and even death.

According to Dr. Allen Valdeavilla, a technical extension veterinarian of the Univet Nutrition and Animal Healthcare Company or UNAHCO, while piglets have a reserve of 40 milligrams (mg) of iron upon birth, and can get about one to two more milligrams from the sow’s milk every day, the total reserve iron they have can last only for approximately four days, given the newborn pigs’ high iron requirements for growth.

“It is thus imperative to give newborn pigs [a supplementary injection of] one-milliliter (ml) or 100 mg of iron…on Day 3 after birth; [this] should support their high growth rates [over[ the next 10 days and [help them[ avoid anemia, [which can] lead to infections and stunting,” Valdeavilla said.

He said that a second one ml iron supplement shot should be administered on Day 14 to ensure a high survival rate among the piglets; this would also help increase their weight and keep them infection-free until they are ready for weaning.

Valdeavilla said one of the best iron supplements available on the market today is Univet’s Jectran Premium, which he said is the only one that is fortified with zinc, another essential mineral that helps improve resistance from diseases.

Aside from zinc, he said each one ml formulation of Jectran contains 100 mg of pure high-grade iron, as well as Vitamin B12 and cobalt, which will help ensure fast growth and high survival rates for piglets. This in turn translates into higher incomes for the swine raisers.

“Anemia is a sad reality for swine raisers because most of our pig pens nowadays have concrete floors that deprive pigs of [access to the] natural iron [in] the soil,” he said. “That is why it is essential to give the right iron supplements to fight anemia and stunting to ensure…profitable farm [operations].”

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2016 issue.